ACT reading practice test 40

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.


Social Science

This passage is adapted from the essay "The Basement Boys" by George F. Will (© 2010 George F. Will).

Current economic hardships have had what is called in
constitutional law a "disparate impact:" The crisis has
not afflicted everyone equally. Although women are a
majority of the workforce, perhaps as many as 80 percent
05of jobs lost were held by men. This injury to men is
particularly unfortunate because it may exacerbate, and
be exacerbated by, a culture of immaturity among the
many young men who are reluctant to grow up.
Increasingly, they are defecting from the meritocracy.
10Women now receive almost 58 percent of bachelor's
degrees. This is why many colleges admit men with
qualifications inferior to those of women applicants-which
is one reason men have higher dropout rates. The Pew
Research Center reports that 28 percent of wives between
15ages 30 and 44 have more education than their husbands,
whereas only 19 percent of husbands in the same age
group have more education than their wives. Twenty-three
percent of men with some college education earn less than
their wives. In law, medical, and doctoral programs,
20women are majorities or, if trends continue, will be.
In 1956, the median age of men marrying was 22.5.
But between 1980 and 2004, the percentage of men reach-
ing age 40 without marrying increased from 6 to 16.5. A
recent study found that 55 percent of men 18 to 24
25are living in their parents' homes, as are 13 percent
of men 25 to 34, compared to 8 percent of women.
Mike Stivic, a.k.a. "Meathead," the liberal graduate
student in All in the Family, reflected society's belief in
the cultural superiority of youth, but he was a leading
30indicator of something else: He lived in his father-in-law
Archie Bunker's home. What are today's "basement
boys" doing down there Perhaps watching Friends and
Seinfeld reruns about a culture of extended youth utterly
unlike the world of young adults in previous generations.
35Gary Cross, a Penn State University historian, wonders,
"Where have all the men gone" His book, Men to Boys:
The Making of Modern Immaturity
, argues that "the
culture of the boy-men today is less a life stage than a
lifestyle." If you wonder what has become of manliness,
40he says, note the differences between Cary Grant and
Hugh Grant, the former, dapper and debonair, the latter,
a perpetually befuddled boy.
Permissive parenting, Cross says, made children
less submissive, and the decline of deference coincided
45with the rise of consumer and media cultures celebrating
the indefinite retention of the tastes and habits of
childhood. The opening of careers to talented women
has coincided with the attenuation of male role models
in popular culture: In 1959, there were 27 Westerns on
50prime-time television glamorizing male responsibility.
Cross says the large-scale entry of women into the
workforce made many men feel marginalized, especially
when men were simultaneously bombarded by new
parenting theories, which cast fathers as their children's
55pals, or worse: In 1945, Parents magazine said a father
should "keep yourself huggable" but show a son the
"respect" owed a "business associate." All this led to
"ambiguity and confusion about what fathers were to do
in the postwar home and, even more, about what it meant
60to grow up male."
Although Cross, an aging academic boomer, was a
student leftist, he believes that 1960s radicalism became
"a retreat into childish tantrums" symptomatic "of how
permissive parents infantilized the boomer generation."
65And the boomers' children Consider the television commercials
for the restaurant chain called Dave & Buster's, which
seems to be, ironically, a Chuck E. Cheese's for adults-
a place for young adults, especially men, to drink beer
and play electronic games and exemplify youth not as
70a stage of life but as a perpetual refuge from adulthood.
At the 2006 Super Bowl, the Rolling Stones sang
"Satisfaction," a song older than the Super Bowl. At this
year's game, another long-of-tooth act, the Who, continued
the commerce of catering to baby boomers' limitless
75appetite for nostalgia. "My generation's obsession with
youth and its memories," Cross writes, "stands out in
the history of human vanity." Last November, when Tiger
Woods's misadventures became public, his agent said:
"Let's please give the kid a break." The kid was then 33.
80He is now 34 but, no doubt, still a kid. The puerile
anthem of a current Pepsi commercial is drearily
prophetic: "Forever young."

1. The main purpose of the passage is to:

A. argue that institutions like higher education have become biased against males.
B. address a supposed lack of maturity in contemporary males.
C. question whether women are really smarter than men.
D. examine the evolution of male role models in popular culture.

2. It is reasonable to infer from the passage that the author is basing many of his assertions on:

F. data about the lifestyles of twentysomethings.
G. psychologists' opinions on parenting.
H. the economic successes of businesses like Dave & Buster's.
J. TV ratings and record sales.

3. Information in the passage suggests that Gary Cross's theories conflict with the idea that:

A. movies have gotten less popular with men over the last half-century or so.
B. fathers are more involved in parenting now than ever before.
C. there are more children's shows on TV now than there used to be.
D. less strict parenting encourages people to succeed.

4. Which of the following questions is NOT directly answered by the passage?

F. Which gender receives a majority of bachelor's degrees?
G. What percent of women 18-24 are living in their parents' homes?
H. Who wrote Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity?
J. What percentage of men with some college education earn less than their wives?

5. According to the passage, the supposed problem that the author addresses began with:

A. the current economic recession.
B. TV and films of the 1970s.
C. post-WWII parenting advice.
D. the popular music of the 1960s.

6. Which of the following best summarizes the fourth paragraph (lines 27-34)?

F. Youth culture was more celebrated in the 1970s than it is now.
G. TV both reflects and reinforces a cult of perpetual adolescence.
H. Popular TV shows have changed very little in the last 40 years.
J. Offspring who still live at home should not be unsupervised, no matter their age.

7. The passage makes specific reference to all of the following professions EXCEPT:

A. historian.
B. actor.
C. writer.
D. professional athlete.

8. It is most reasonable to assume that Gary Cross views the behavior of his generation as a (an):

F. immature attempt to regain the past.
G. method for forgetting the difficulties of childhood.
H. obsession to become superstars of their generation.
J. desire to start a successful business in this economy.

9. As it is used in line 48, the word attenuation most nearly means:

A. weakening.
B. popularity.
C. openness.
D. tradition.

10. According to the passage, the choice of recent Super Bowl halftime acts reflects:

F. bias against female musicians.
G. fear of controversy.
H. a desire to please the greatest possible number of viewers.
J. an unhealthy obsession with youth.